Tabs Out | Music en Berlin – Animal

Music en Berlin – Animal

8.12.22 by Matty McPherson

As an uncultured American swine, I had a simple desire. I wanted to understand “the music in Berlin.” However, when I whispered this into the monkey’s paw I bought off etsy, the paw reached into my pocket. It pulled out Music en Berlin’s Animal, an Orb tapes release from last year that I must’ve seemed to sleep on. Perhaps I was being too zealous, making oversights on tapes literally right under my nose!

When he’s not striking up the visuals for Daft Alliance, Nathan Berlinguette has started publishing his “new musics” under this Music en Berlin moniker. He’s been at the wild n’ crazy ass world of “end time” music for over 25 years, dating back to 5/5/2000s prophetic guitar wails. Different collaborations of all sorts of sounds have appeared in its wake, while Berlinguette’ has shared the stage with numerous names and line-ups (Ms. Pharmakon anyone?). This newfangled solo endeavor is more dream-like and unfiltered. Animal’s single-sided run time emphasizes a seven part story, with these seven tracks acting as an imagined soundtrack for his pulp slasher sonics.

It feels apt, considering that these pieces have a sense of foreboding crevices and boogeymen-esque movement. It may take a moment to find its way towards those sounds, with Scenes 1 & 2 practically opening en media res with hemorrhaging generator feedback–itself a burgeoning star making ample yet welcome appearances throughout the tape. Yet, by Scenes 3 & 4, the noise atmospherics are leveraged for dubbed-out surveillance type beats. These tracks lurch and roll, an unending uneasy paranoia. Scene 4, in particular, weaponizes that feeling of being hunted down on a submarine in lockdown when you’re the last alive. After Scene 5’s brief detente though, Nathan closes with Scene 6’s evanescent illbient, a sudden spurt of claustrophobic tension that (naturally) allows one last revving of the generator noise out for great propulsion. You’ll be deep in a comfort coma after it all concludes with the brief popcorn clatter of Scene 7’s popcorn handshake miasma.

For a single-sided adventure, it’s never so gritted it feels unapproachable. A nifty addition to the Orb Tapes tapestry.

Professionally dubbed in real-time green shells tapes, with 2-sided white pad print. Limited to 75 copies available at the Orb Tapes Bandcamp Page

Tabs Out | Rrill Bell – False Flag Rapture

Rrill Bell – False Flag Rapture

8.10.22 by Matty McPherson

Tabs Out Rule 34 states that you always have to keep your ears open for a James Plotkin cassette mastering job. The guy is like novelist James Patterson–in that both can’t not stop their respective jobs (perhaps at risk of plummeting the world into peril with their demises). Anyways, it’s a good rule that always keep me from filing just any tape away, such as Rrill Bell’s False Flag Rapture. That’s the work of American expatriate/German-based musician Jim Campbell. Campbell had sorta spent a period of six year (2015-2021) trawling the mental-hertz of witnessing a sudden dormant memory spurning to life. False Flag Rapture is an interrogation of this memory–his Slovenian grandmother singing a hymn in Slovak dialect impromptly after 50+ years.

Tabs Out Rule 35 states that “if it’s electro-acoustic its probably for big dweebs.” Fortunately, False Flag Rapture is anti-dweeb electro-acoustic. In fact, it’s more musique-concrete/dream art type shenanigans, restless without tepidness. Campbell’s MO to traverse this memory, and itself the nature of his own collective family memories, is personalized into this C42; a longform split into two sides. It’s a warranted approach, because Campbell’s music is endearingly inscrutable. He refuses to distinctly spell out the memory or his own memories from within the family tree. The tape and extrapolation of this memory is the product of studying and applying various 20th century approaches to sounds into hybrid forms. The textures of his drones and sounds strike images of analog, oral-driven pasts. Places barely connected by technology and almost moving backwards in time. Less rust belt, more “rusted and dusted” belt.

It hardly comes as a surprise that this music then often slinks or twirl like a dust devil. It opens like an analogue bubblebath, complete with morse-code bleeps and quivering haptics. It sounds of an omnibus presence seeking a shape it cannot quite shake out. As it furthers through its cycle, Campbell is able to start to tease out different elements in the mix, bringing to life a situated, personalized journey to this memory. By the ten minute mark, the piece has shifted towards a low drone, emanating textures that recall radio cabinets and dust bowl power-lines. It sounds powerless though, as it moves through radiator hum textures and blisteringly empty streets, ending as a belltower strikes back and forth. If we’re to understand this memory, we must be keen to these elements and that world they occupy.

When Part 2 enters, it’s almost Pram-ian in the way looping wind chimes create a near-nautical state of hyperawareness; they sound of the majesty one finds when in perfect range of 3 tornado sirens going off at once. To follow, Campbell does provide the a recording of the lead-up to the recording of his grandmother many odd years back. It is as if all the traversing of this music concrete was to lead to this memory. Yet, he backs it out to let Alex Morsey’s tuba and Felix Fritsche’s wind instruments block the memory, with a sense of somberness. The recording does finally emerge, plain and understated, unmanipulated for maximum impact. It quickly returns to the pre-conscious dream state that has defined so much of this long form. That stretch of the final ten minutes really might just be my favorite though. A colossal low end drone, the product of various manipulations to a tuba, mends up chiming bells, and haptics that sounds of vaporous fireflies; it flows in lockstep, safeguarding the memory for another go around on the hi-fi.

Edition of 100 42-minute lime green cassettes (with full-color six-panel Jcard in clear Norelco case, plus full-color outer Ocard featuring collage art) available at the Rrill Bell/Elevator Bath Bandcamp page.

Tabs Out | Amirtha Kidambi & Luke Stewart – Zenith/Nadir

Amirtha Kidambi & Luke Stewart – Zenith/Nadir

8.5.22 by Matty McPherson

Just what incubates such tenacious sounds? Is it amps and pedals amongst other equipment? Location that brings such disparate voices togetheres? Our pained times that incites it all? I’ve recently had a recurring daydream of Drone festivals. One as a liturgical mending that extrapolate feelings outside the present moments, as much as they document the situation they find themselves in. Amirtha Kidambi and Luke Stewart would both be there together in that daydream. Both have strenuous, muscular range in their approaches to sound conduction. Kidambi’s voice and electronic effects grant it an elasticity; a painted echo of the past or a panopticonic prelude to the future. Stewart’s bass and amplifier feedback prowess has often led to states of post-zen bliss and punk’d noise experiments. They’re both industrious thinkers. Although I can’t comprehend a time I’ve heard either of them as hellacious and studious as on Zenith/Nadir, their open-book drone improvisation for Tripticks Tapes.

Zenith/Nadir has been simmering and stewing since an August 2020 meeting between two at Pioneer Works. “A time where despair and possibility were inextricable,” the Bandcamp summary contextualizes. For the two esteemed improvisers, show-bookers, and ontological new music scribes, it’s a chance to take their complementary approaches in search of blistering territories unknown. Their seven seances are harrowing, improvisations on the brink of being swallowed by the earth whole or thrown to the stratosphere. Both sides favor aversive, yet not opposing or diametric approaches.

The transient opener “Circulation” is practically degrading en media res as Kidambi applies ample effects to her voice. One layer of her voice stands as a mantra-esque drone, while another is jolted and modulated into an epigraph of tumultuous walkie-talkie noise. Meanwhile, Stewart’s engineering and approach to feedback steadies the two dissonant sounds; through cracky tonal static until it finally reaches a low hanging orbit of clarity. “Premonition” is toying with similar effects, although with Stewart’s bass more noticeably beefing out the low-end. “Postmonition” concludes this trio, seeing Kidambi’s voice so beyond-process that it has shapeshifted into a horn instrument crescendoing and bellowing into a bonafide WAIL of a thousand suns. Side A’s closer, the eleven minute “Exaltation,” scales down the noise for more emphasis on the two’s distinct instruments. Kidambi is able to lull us into the industrial lullaby. Even still, the duo continually shift the dimensions of the recording with just a few quivers of Kidambi’s voice or the occasional strum of an upright bass. You can’t quite tell whether this was recorded at Pioneer Works, in a destitute cavern, or at some Port Authority blacksite.

Side B relays the focus into thousand-yard stare acoustic duets, amounting newfangled folk nadirs from the two’s traditions. “Relics,” “Medium,” and “Telepathy” are closer in kinship to ka baird’s Voice Games than an Orb Tapes release. Yet, for Kidambi and Stewart, there is nothing inquisitively gamey about this (even as these tracks are wildly fun). In all three of them, the duo try to keep pace with each other’s freewheeling sleights. I love about a third of the way through “Medium” how Kidambi mends her voice into a machination so suddenly that Stewart is having to drop restraint and move with whimsy, in lieu of brevity. Instead of relying on feedback or suddenness, the closer “Telepathy” sees the duo opt to slow their manner of operation. They draw out notes within their respective instruments. The sonic space is smaller, as if to let the acoustics of this space breathe. There’s a somber aura of near-silence to the piece. It stretches and contortions, a reflection on the zeniths it found itself tangled within just half an hour before. 

Edition of 100 tapes in clear transparent shell with white hubs, pro dubbed and printed available at the Tripticks Tapes Bandcamp

Tabs Out | Orange Milk August 2022 Batch

Orange Milk August 2022 Batch

8.2.22 by Matty McPherson

Orange Milk has reengaged with the idea of releasing three tapes at once in a month. Just not quite as a bundle. A summer trilogy? Or, three short stories microtargeting the three types of Orange Milk Music Enthusiasts (lappy 486 users, lint lickers, and sour beer drinkers)? I needed to confirm for myself to see where they all landed. So, I spent summer session (a couple of the west coast-adjacent variants of Oberon) with the latest in Orange Milk sonic advancements. To say I pondered what’s going on out in the midwest would be a bit of a fib; these releases grab and tug the heartstrings.

goo age – Open Zone

At the start of the year, Keith Rankin casually dropped a new genre term “GOO CORE.” It was intended to describe an outpouring of noise music that was bubbly/playful like pop, but “without the structure.” Naturally Mr. P of TMT immediately started replying with Orange Milk artists and friends abound; it is literally a string of music TMT championed for a decade. Even Keith did as well. It all sorta felt like the classic “spiderman pointing at spiderman” image come to life. Take this blog post as a 7 month late reply to the tweet, as I’m sitting with goo age’s GOO CORE opus Open Zone–perhaps the release that kicked that conversation off to begin with.

Adrian Wright’s (aka goo age) honed in on these zones between 2019 and 2021, after a smattering of Bandcamp self-releases. goo age performed in basements and houses of Tabs Out certified favorites like Marsha Fisher. In the blurb for Open Zone, Keith recommended having a hi-fi stereo or big brain headphone for the 12 tracks on the tape. Indeed, they are variably open ended ambient adventures that emphasize precise synthetic textures. As singular tracks go, they’re often amalgamations of elements that intend to incite shocks as much as soothe. ASMR-indebted quips n’ chirps, percussive conundrums, “sine-wave bass” and synths, amongst occasional wind instruments; all operate in a humongous space where any moment of silence is less a moment of clarity and more foreshadowing sudden shifts in pace. When you hear a track in real time, the effect of tracking the elements is akin to constructivism. Two elements that should not match clearly creating an exponential sum of part, no matter how subtle. Sometimes it is almost-ambient pop (qnpLUB) or dance (froglside (refraction))–tracks that have an inscrutable movement slipping from your fingers. Other times it is just capturing the hyperrealism of our modern era (how far we’ve scrolled), letting texture that the wheel over structure.

The result is that goo age’s Open Zone abstractions become uniquely immaculate mood music. Yet, it ain’t anything like wallpaper even if it functions as its own insular world. There is an earnest sense of deep engagement being asked of the listener; a track like “shakuhatchling” lets its synths evaporate to seep in various textures. The further you let goo age take over, the more you’ll come away with the same sense some bro would’ve given their ECM or Windham Hill cassettes in the 80s. In fact, this really is just another absolute bonkers inversion of those labels. Don’t enclose this zone. Keep it open.

Andy Loebs – Flexuous Vertex

Andy Loebsheads have been clamoring for a bonafide tape release from the Philadelphia maverick for over four years. That’s how long it has been since we learned just a crevice about Loebs on Terry Tapes’ About Me. Loebs overflowing bounty of available music could be abstracted to two oversimplified words, “cute midi.” Keith Rankin would insist on classifying Flexuous Vertex in three hype-sticker-worthy words, “quintessential OM style.” Neither label is mutually exclusive. Flexuous Vertex‘s C34 is practically a cocktail of Orange Milk magic–Loebs’d out and re-Leobs’ed. It’s a wickedly ecstatic release built on nailing seamless genre pivots into a quirked out white boy funk. It makes the whole listen akin to super sized bouncy castle. Please just take your shoes off before stepping in.

So as such, expect Flexuous Vertex to discombobulate and reshape on command whenever it so pleases. Second track, “In Praise of Unlearning,” isn’t just on the nose–it’s a MO to the entire direction of this cassette. Within four minutes, Loebs casts off a litany of IDEAS; big midi band jazz, “progressive” goo core, commando-lunged out footwork, and hell, quirked drum n’ bass. And nothing about it feels heavy handed or a miscalculated set of casio samples. The ideas just simply flow succinctly, enough that you can quickly forget that you’ve warped 3 tracks down the line. “Touch Configuration” takes all the elements of Castlevania Symphony of the Night map and squishes it into one omnibus room, complete with nu-metal guitar thrashing and lashing!

It can seem dizzying. Still, Loebs’ tracks are meticulously mapped out. “Humidity Vertex”‘s sense of movement, guided by a rollicking drum n’ bass rhythm and ambient synth pulses, seamlessly conveying the plotting needed to succeeded at a dexterous rail shooter. “Living Under a Rock”‘s blithely midi-pop briefly stumbles into an ambient secret zone before a giving way to a “wub-wub” boss battle complete with a Weather Report style jazz beat ’em up. Quite frankly, Loebs; Flexuous Vertex is flush with sounds that make you gush. Zones that cease to repeat the same effect more than once, arriving with novel sonic design.

Bloodz Boi, claire rousay, More Eaze – a crying poem

The recent round of Mari and claire’s releases have been exercises in concision as much as world building. Both are pop omnivores looking for the precise sound to leverage their consistent shifts and expeditions. This time around it comes in the form of a voice from halfway across the world. a crying poem, a collaborative engagement with Bloodz Boi (featured on their last Orange Milk tape), honestly carries 0% fat. The lean C15 of 6 cuts finds the three in a bittersweet lockstep; acoustic and ambient pop for the dusk smoke break, the late night slepless woe era, and even the back of open-air markets in all their compounded loneliness.

For claire and Mari, their instrumentation continues to develop their signature room tone ambience with a greater emphasis on post-slowcore acoustics (and measured amounts of autotune). Lethargic guitar strumming paired with ambient synths/strings feel like a sister unit to the rooms of rousay’s tape with Patrick Shiroishi from last year. It is the kind of space where Bloodz Boi’z poems can amply chews the scenery. His endearing delivery is enough to quickly find yourself mumbling in sync to and swelling up in heartbreak with (even if you don’t know the lyrics). It marks BB the perfect lead vocal across the EP–this is really a release that emphasizes his vocal delivery above Claire and Mari’s. It’s openly telegraphed on opener, 忧伤的贡多拉 – Sad Gondola, where BB takes center stage as claire’s spazzy bright autotune and Mari’s reserved dronetune function as a greek chorus. They’re more there to counter and deftly expand the harmonic range of the track for Bloodz Boi to throw down poetry.

It’s easy to miss the forest for the trees in the subtly of the this release. claire and mari’s soundscapes feel decisively more ethereal than usual; a mist that sort of cocoons and surrounds Bloozd Boi. When this approach to instrumentation & Bloodz Boi’z delivery hit their peak, the result is a cut like 打火机 – The Lighter, the pinnacle of the tape. Incredible smooth synth blasts practically reimagine Blue Nile’s “Lets Go Out Tonight”; the former’s stoicism rendered obsolete as woozy synths and delicate guitar strums turn it into a 2 AM fucked up anthem. 阴天 – Overcast, the only track to cross the three minute mark, brings in strings that can practically swell a grinch’s heart. Another fascinating development this month in emo-ambient.

Needless to say, all three cassettes are available at their respective album pages under the Orange Milk Bandcamp.

Tabs Out | M. Geddes Gengras – Expressed, I Noticed Silence

M. Geddes Gengras – Expressed, I Noticed Silence

7.29.22 by Matty McPherson

Do yourself a favor and find yourself the time to put yourself in a room–virtual, imagined, or real–with M. Geddes Gengras. It’s a known fact that Ged’s a voracious zoner, but he also carries a PhD in “talking and dub fun facts.” I had a chance to sit down with Ged where a story of a life lived and seeped in scene histories, label ascendancy, modular synthesizers, and DUUUUBBBBB all interconnect. Ged’s probably told this one dozens of times. It’s a known fact that it is a story worth thousands of words and well worth a listen. Nevertheless, I could not have been more thankful.

Ged’s been with Hausu Mountain for the last few years, an institution that’s seen him albums release at a slower, more time-relaxed pace. That does not mean ideas are not spur of the moment, rapid-fire permutations, as Times Makes Nothing Happen made abundantly clear. It was Geddes’ hardest rapid-fire GAMER music put to ferric tape in a hot second; a strong slab of IDEA-core music. Yet, there’s always room for a hard pivot back. Expressed, I Noticed Silence is a series of six strangely beautiful and isolated zones that do not reset his work at the label. I am the Last of That Green and Warm Hued-World, alongside Ishi (on Leaving Records) may have been a world apart so long ago, but they’re still starting points to this string of bliss. Yet, what Expressed, I Noticed Silence makes a big leap in is how Geddes has been tinkering with the “zone as an expedition.” There’s a greater sense of domestic life and companionship embellished within.

Really, that’s just a fancy way for me to say there’s a special guest strumming and thrumming throughout these wildly quirky bliss arenas: Cyrus Gengras, of Kevin Morby’s backing band. The Brothers Gengras are in lockstep here. For both brothers, there’s a sense of playfulness within this approach (and not just because the track titles are rather funny). It’s easy to imagine both the brothers in a canoe: Ged navigating us downstream, through a thick fog, with his Moog Sub-Phatty and Waldorf Microwave XT acting as radar and sonar, as Cyrus strums a cocooned chord, reverb’d out and keeping the pace gentle. If you know your 2003 shoegaze (a landmark year for digital guitar integration into electronics), then you’re going to quite enjoy your time with the chaps. Together, they’ll follow a zone out to where it lands.

“Discovered Endstate Always” is a precise, practical opener that really lets them sink their teeth into their respective strengths. Together, the two create a near-ambient house chill out, where synth waves and samples act as otherworldly choruses of birdsong and ethereal voices. This is to say, these zones have the immediacy of a lush paradise as much as the chill out room. “The Harmony and Also I Became Square Movements” is another poignant examination of this process, featuring Geddes’ percussive amalgamations of banshee beats stoned out, bobbing and weaving over its six minutes. Finally, closer “Deadly, Holy, Rough” brilliantly traverses three different zones in one track. With reverent synthesizers, we might as well be starting in Dracula’s castle, yet the duo quickly find themselves in a valley at dusk, with synthesizer twinkles radiating the energy of fireflies. But by the last two minutes, whatever dusk’d energy we thought we had settles into a deep breathing rhythm. The bass drone sounds of two hearts beating, as if we’ve been in a sensory deprivation status all along.

Limited edition C38 orange cassette with black imprints. 2-sided 3-panel JCard with artwork from HausMo Max available at the Hausu Mountain Bandcamp Page